(Originally posted on July 18, 2012)
Being an ambitious and driven person it has been results I’ve focused on most for the majority of my life. I suppose that will never completely change. However in recent years I’ve learned to have a lot of respect for my effort. Being able to accurately see when I have “done my best” has become a healthy benchmark and a boost to my self-esteem. It took a lot of failures to discover giving something all I had to give was ultimately what matters most.
Was my effort toward what I was trying to accomplish the best I had to give at the time? Being able to ask that question and truthfully answer it has been a sizeable alteration of my vantage point. Now I know doing my absolute best puts me in a place where I own no one, especially myself, an apology or excuse. My best is ALWAYS enough. Giving all I have to something is an accomplishment within itself.
There is a positive bent to realizing all is not lost if I don’t win the battle. What matters is having the strength to try with all I know to do, to fight for my objective and face the possibility of falling short; of being defeated. If all I do is put a gold star by my name each time I master something or fully accomplish it, so much due credit will be lacking. Some of my greatest and most elegant struggles were for things I never completed or fully accomplished. Giving myself praise for effort lights my self-esteem up and recognizes I am what I do, not just what I accomplish.
My brain used to be like Velcro only for my full and rare successes. I made them stick so I could wallow in them as long as I could. My thoughts were like Teflon for what I failed doing or succeeding at. I refused to let falling short stick to me and wanted to forget as fast as I possibly could.
Of course I still like completely realizing an objective but the fact of its accomplishment has the most joy when I don’t dwell on it. When I stopped hiding my failures, things got better. Being pleased with “me” all the times I did my very best, but fell short or did not complete what I had started gave me a lot more to be proud of. It turned out how I kept score internally matters a lot! A corny, but true saying describes well what I have come to know first hand: “It’s not if you win or lose, but how you play the game!”
So here I am today readily able to give myself full credit for a lot of time and effort diligently put into a failure. It’s the struggle that matters; the amount of heart and soul I put into my effort that has become an improved self-judgment yardstick. And I am far better for it and grateful for the perspective that allows me to see things that way.
There are defeats more triumphant than victories.
Michel de Montaigne